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Your 40 chances

Your 40 chances

Forty chances to make a crop, and a life.

It’s a great philosophy, and one that Illinois farmer and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett (son of legendary investor/philanthropist Warren Buffett) shared in his recent book “40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World."

Along with his passion for farming and helping improve conservation practices, this book outlines Howard Buffett’s life journey, lessons learned, and how he hopes to make a difference among a billion people who lack basic food security.

Howard mentions that he heard this life-changing outlook from a speaker at a planter clinic. He wrote, “As a farmer, you’re always in catch-up mode, trying to get the next task done but looking around the farm and seeing another 20 projects you wish you had time to do. It sometimes feels as if the work will never end. He was reminding us that it does. When I thought about it, 40 didn’t seem like all that many chances, and I had used up a bunch already. I thought, there is no time to waste.”

We can all relate to that feeling, being in catch-up mode, in business and in our personal life. And the “40 chances” philosophy (more or less, from our early productive business years to retirement) provides a great perspective from which to build upon every year — to improve and learn with every crop, in every field.

To that end, Corn+Soybean Digest strives every week to bring you working examples of how other farmers are applying science to their business to help you improve upon your 40 chances.

One of my favorite Think Different piece comes from our Data Decisions columnist, Dan Frieberg, who writes about making sure data pays. He talks about his journey with data since 1999, taking numbers to the extreme where they truly add decision value — tracking costs per bushel, mapped in 0.1-acre increments.

Speaking of data use, we also profile Minnesota farmer Gary Wagner, who outlines four key data layers that drive his bottom-line agronomic decisions.

Two other stories relate to future data and how it could impact your farm. One outlines current field research results with multi-hybrid planters; the second shows how Wisconsin farmers have worked together to improve their local watershed by tracking what exits their fields.

We will continue to strive, as an information provider, to present you with good examples that help you make the most of your 40 chances. As Howard wrote in his book, “You’ve learned from your mistakes, but I’d guess that none of you feel you can afford to take a single year left on your string for granted.” We wholeheartedly agree.

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on, for subscribing to our newsletters and for being willing to Think Different.

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